The three most common inexpensive ways to remove solder include a "solder sucker", solder wick, and an iron with an attached desoldering bulb.

Desoldering tools


Surface mount desoldering: Surface mount chips are especially hard to desolder because it's very difficult to completely remove all the solder pin by pin, and avoid overheating the board and lifting a pad. Professional shops use expensive hot air guns or special tips (shown below) to heat all the joints at once.

Desoldering a SOIC

There are fortunately a few cheap ways to desolder surface mount chips.

  • ChipQuik provides an interesting solder that when melted over existing joints produces a new low-melting point alloy (under 200 °F) with a much longer solidification time. The longer solidification time enables you to melt all the joints at once and then flick off the chip.
  • There are many guides for making a DIY hot air gun with the RadioShack® desoldering iron and a fish tank air pump. Engadget has one of the better how-to guides. Here and here are some more plus the supposed original.